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November 10, 2018

JPMC acquires 2nd cyberknife


November 10, 2018

The Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) has acquired a second Cyberknife Robotic System that is capable of carrying out a larger number of surgeries or procedures to eliminate cancer cells and tumours.

Prof Tariq Mahmood, the head of JPMC’s Radiology Department told The News on Friday that the second Cyberknife System has arrived in Karachi and is currently being installed. “It usually takes six months in the installation of a Cyberknife Robotic System and we would be able to make the second robot functional by March 2019,” he said.

JPMC is the only hospital in Pakistan which is running a state-of-the-art Cyberknife Robotic System since 2013 and the only hospital in the world that is not charging a single penny from patients for the Robotic Radiosurgery for the elimination of brain tumours and treatment of cancerous and non-cancerous tumours anywhere in the body, including the prostate, lung, brain, spine, head and neck, liver, pancreas and kidney, where radiation is indicated.

The already-installed Cyberknife Robot at JPMC is performing seven to eight procedures in a day and it can only be kept functional for 250 days in a year as it requires mandatory preventive maintenance to keep it functional.

“This robotic system only performs 920 procedures or radiosurgeries at other centres in the world but so far we have performed 1,563 surgeries with our Cyberknife, which is unusual,” said Prof Mahmood. “By the end of current year, we are expecting to perform 1,800 procedures with our existing robot, which would be double the number of prescribed procedures in a year with these types of systems.”

Giving details of the second Cyberknife Robotic System, he said its acquisition and installation would cost USD4 million and once functional, it would be carrying out 15-16 radiosurgeries in a day.

“Our existing robot performs eight surgeries a day but when both of these systems are functional, 23 to 24 surgeries would be performed in a single day,” he said, adding that this would drastically reduce the waiting time for patients.

What is a Cyberknife?

Often dubbed ‘magic knife’, Cyberknife is a robotic system that uses a form of radiation therapy to destroy tumours. Radiosurgery is non-invasive – there is no cutting involved. The term “surgery” refers to the high level of precision of the energy beams, Prof. Mahmood, explained. He said radiosurgery is commonly used by neurosurgeons to treat conditions within the brain and spine and in very rare cases to treat prostate cancer.

Prof Mahmood claimed the system eliminates over 99 per cent of the tumour or cancer as the operator is capable of using 1,200 beams of radiations at a 360-degree angle, which targets almost of the tumour or cancer cells. “There is no chance of collateral damage in this type of surgery and chances of recurrence are less than 1 per cent.”

Thousands treated

As many as 1,563 patients from 81 cities of Pakistan as well as from United States, UAE and Afghanistan have been provided free treatment at the Cyberknife facility at JPMC, Prof Mahmood said.

There is no cash counter at JPMC’s Cyberknife facility, he said, and despite the fact that each robotic procedure costs USD1-3,000, patients are not asked to pay. “Each year, we spend Rs120 million on its maintenance and functioning, of which 40 per cent comes from the Sindh government, 10 per cent from donations from the patients and remaining is met by the Patients Aid Foundation.”

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